Mentally ill teens more likely to abuse alcohol and pot


Researchers in Australia have found that 10% of teenagers with mental health problems drinks alcohol, smokes tobacco and uses marijuana.

Which came first: mental illness or drug abuse? Both.

Apparently the substance abuse and mental health issues work coming and going: teenagers who abuse substances early in life are more likely to have ill mental health, and teenagers with mental health issues are more likely to abuse substances. Data was culled from 2000 people aged 12 to 30 years old. They participated in the “National Mental Health Headspace Programme” in Sydney. Of those who sought help for their mental illness, many reported weekly usage of cannabis, tobacco and alcohol. 500 participant provided details.

Details from the study:

- 12% of 12 to 17 years olds used alcohol weekly.
- 39% of 18-19 year olds used alcohol weekly.
- Nearly 50% of 20-30 year olds used alcohol weekly.
- A sizeable portion of those teens who provided details of their drinking habits were “risky drinkers”.
- Nearly half of the teens diagnosed as bipolar were “risky drinkers”.
- 7% of the younger teens used cannabis weekly.
- 14% of older teens used cannabis weekly.
- 18% of 20-30 year olds used cannabis weekly.
- 3.6% of 12-17 year olds said they smoked pot daily. 1.5% of the same group said they drank alcohol daily.
- 8.8% of 18-19 year olds said they smoked pot daily while 6% drank alcohol daily.
- 23% of younger teens smoked cigarettes daily as did 36% of older teens and 41% of 20-30 years olds.
People who used all three substances were more likely to be older, male and have bipolar or psychotic disorders.

Substance abuse increases odd for poor health outcomes

“Given the comorbidity with significant mental health problems, these patterns of substance use are likely to contribute to increased risk of poor physical and/or mental health outcomes,” said the authors of the reports which appeared in the journal BMJ Open. The report suggests bringing mental health services together with various substance abuse programs, especially for young people who are particularly vulnerable. The report also identified teens wit bipolar as being most at risk.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, BMJ Open


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